As pressure mounts on Prince Andrew to speak to the FBI about his connection to convicted paedophile Jeffrey Epstein and his alleged co-conspirator Ghislaine Maxwell, the question remains – why hasn't the Queen stepped in, forcing her son to co-operate with US authorities?

This question was on The Sunday Project host Lisa Wilkinson's mind during a segment on Sunday night, which followed Maxwell's arrest a few days ago.

Wilkinson started by interviewing a friend of Maxwell, who claimed the British socialite – who had connections with some of the world's most powerful people – was in fact a victim of Epstein herself.

"She was in love with Jeffrey Epstein," said former New York stockbroker Laura Goldman. "It doesn't excuse what she did. She really thought that he would marry her. I feel in some ways he gaslit her.

Advertisement

"He kind of convinced her that he was going to do it at some point and then never did. She didn't see it and kept thinking, if I do one more thing for him, he will marry me. She was also a victim of Jeffrey. You can be a predator and a victim."

Asked whether that excused Maxwell allegedly creating dozens more victims, whose lives were destroyed, Goldman replied: "There's no excuse, absolutely no excuse. I have no problem with her going to jail. My whole point is, though, that the story is more complicated."

According to Goldman, who Wilkinson said had a "chequered past", Maxwell was "very loyal" to Andrew and would never reveal anything incriminating about him.

It's up to the palace to push Andrew to front up, according to The Sunday Project host. Photo / Getty Images
It's up to the palace to push Andrew to front up, according to The Sunday Project host. Photo / Getty Images

"She feels very loyal to him, he helped her after her father died. He helped launch her in New York society. And [for] that she will never betray him. I also think she's not sure he did anything wrong. Not saying she didn't. I think she feels he's been a victim in this, too."

When the interview was over, Wilkinson delivered a monologue addressing the Epstein scandal more generally.

She specifically took aim at Andrew for failing to co-operate with prosecutors, and at the royal family for treating Meghan Markle and Prince Harry as a bigger scandal than the allegations of sexual abuse against the Queen's son.

"This story will simply not go away," said Wilkinson.

"As of Friday, the woman accused of providing Jeffrey Epstein with underage girls, is in custody and with Epstein's death, Ghislaine Maxwell may be the only one alive who knows all the secrets.

Advertisement

"If Laura Goldman is right and Maxwell doesn't give up information on Prince Andrew, then it's up to the Queen's second son to do so himself.

"Not likely, given Andrew claims he doesn't even remember meeting Virginia, even casting doubt over photograph figure evidence."

Andrew has suggested the photo of himself, Maxwell and a teenage Virginia Giuffre could have been doctored. During a "trainwreck" interview with BBC's Newsnight said he had "no recollection" of ever meeting her.

He also claimed that on the night when Giuffre has alleged she was forced to have sex with him, he was actually at a Pizza Express restaurant in Woking, Surrey for his daughter's birthday.

The Queen should compel Andrew to co-operate with authorities, Lisa Wilkinson said. Photo / Getty Images
The Queen should compel Andrew to co-operate with authorities, Lisa Wilkinson said. Photo / Getty Images

"Sadly, we will never know if that is true, because days after that interview, the police denied a freedom of information request that could have confirmed this, or not," Wilkinson continued.

"What we do know is authorities are eager to speak to him.

Advertisement

"That's why it is now up to the palace to push for Andrew to front up unconditionally."

In a statement issued last December, Buckingham Palace said: "It is emphatically denied that the Duke of York had any form of sexual contact or relationship with Virginia Roberts. Any claim to the contrary is false and without foundation."

The Palace has now stopped responding to requests for comment on the Epstein scandal.

"So, who do we believe?" Wilkinson concluded.

"Well, as long as Andrew remains under palace protection, we will never know. By any standard, that is simply not good enough.

"For 68 years, the Queen has demonstrated herself to be someone who chooses duty over family. The greater good over personal interests.

Advertisement

"Surely in 2020, for Her Majesty and the royal family to retain any authority and respect, if she believes child sex slavery is a scourge that needs to be eradicated, and has any empathy for the dozens of victims of Jeffrey Epstein, then she simply has no option but to compel Andrew to fully co-operate with authorities.

"To quote former Australian of the Year, David Morrison: 'The standard you walk past is the standard you accept'."